Archive for 2009

Gardens en route to the grocery store

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

This is a garden in an alley near some chickens Ronin likes to visit. The first time I saw it, I called it Lead Garden because it’s planted in some funky paint-and-concrete-dust-crusted dirt in an alley adjacent a flaking garage and mouldering compost pile. At first it was just a long line of puny seedlings but as it grew, sticks and string were added to bind in the garden and allow a scaffold for the climbing plants. Of course, now it is full and luscious looking and there are volunteer tomatoes growing out of the compost pile (Trader Joe’s “grape tomatoes” I think they are) I finally met the guy who tended it and I’m fairly positive he is not one of the land owners. Just a mellow street dude with a serious green thumb.

Leaving the alley we pass the corner house, which is a tiny thing with a big backyard. The people who live here have two 100-gallon plastic containers full of cut-up pieces of stump that have been, um, brewing for nearly a year (at the very least). We wonder what they are making. They also have a nice garden with corn poking up over their six-foot fence.

Continuing down the street is a small front-yard garden. This one got started late but it’s looking pretty good. Sadly though, there are about ten little four-inch containers of root-bound strawberry plants beyond the garden patch near the front steps. I feel like I can’t understand (and yet I CAN understand only too well) why then never managed to get them planted in the real dirt so that they would have some semblance of a decent strawberry existence. Ah well. Moving on.

I don’t know what that little stripe of lawn between sidewalk and street is called but a lot of people around here plant gardens or fruit trees in it. I think it’s awesome but I’d personally be paranoid that dogs would pee on my tomatoes. And WHO is that hot guy with the adorable baby?

This guy must have used homemade compost to mulch his yard because there are tomato plants coming up ALL OVER his flower beds. These ones escaped his fence and are taking over the sidewalk (also Trader Joe grape tomatoes, it looks like). Ronin has a special affinity for this house because they chose to landscape the [weird patch between sidewalk and street] with pea gravel. Ronin LOVES pea gravel. It’s maybe her favorite thing on earth these days.

After 20 minutes and some hysterics, we managed to cross the street to a house owned by an elderly Chinese lady and her large chow mix dog. We see her begrudgingly walking the dog periodically with the surliest expression and the shortest leash. Pesky dogs!

She planted these beans from seed and I watched in amazement as the tiniest, most pathetic little sprouts grew up so huge they ate up the chain link fence and took over the string she laced all through the tops of the re-bar posts.

BEANS! I tell ya.

Another lovely garden planted in the [whateveryoucallit]. They have a serious pumpkin crop too.

Nobody waters lawns here. Only the dandelions are still green.

This guy has a cornfield in his front yard and has also taken up the parkway (I looked it up) with tomatoes and squash.

Alley garden. This is just around the corner from the New Seasons, where we buy groceries and where Ronin feasts upon the myriad of samples they lay out on a daily basis. I love New Seasons.

This house has raised beds that spill over his property lines into the vacant lot next door. Also, he’s planted a tomato field smack in the middle of the lot.

Since we rented a real house with a real yard, we planted a garden as well. We have cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, sunburst squash, chard, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, basil, oregano, sage, chives, thyme, strawberries and raspberries that were already here and established, and a volunteer artichoke. The carrots unfortunately didn’t do well at all; maybe it is the thick clayey quality of our soil. Also, powdery mildew totally attacked the squash and lemon cucumber. I mixed some baking soda in water w/a little dishsoap and oil and killed it and now the squash is doing well. The lemon cucumber was pretty severely disabled and though it is producing cucumbers, they are small and sparse.

The strawberries, tomatoes, and raspberries. The tomatoes are just now ripening and we’re going to have a second crop of raspberries in a few weeks. Ronin loves raspberries provided they come directly off the bush; if you try to feed her fruits (blueberries, plums, whatever) in the house, she shuns them. Therefore, we have to go back out and pretend to pull them off the bush if we want her to eat them.

Just one word: Playdates.

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

[The mama’s eye view.]

Ronin’s increasing playground freakouts were starting to get me worried about her socialization. It’s probably nothing out of the ordinary for your average short, illiterate, toothless (mostly), incontinent person who can’t speak English, but she is so painfully sensitive about having things taken away from her (toys, pine cones, steering wheel on the play structure, personal space, etc.) that I get to thinking (The Internet does not help). Sometimes she just decides she doesn’t like the look of some kid at the playground and whenever that kid comes near her, she just starts crying and flailing accusingly at him. Of course, this leaves the poor kid totally perplexed and a little disoriented. I have to take Ronin off and explain that that kid has a right to be on the play structure too and blah blah what the hell?!

The answer: Playdates. I may as well buy the minivan and sign myself up for the PTA now I suppose.

We have a couple of baby friends we specifically meet up with. Winslow is two months older than Ronin and they actually seem to interact together. We usually meet up at the park and the babies follow each other around, poking at vegetation, stamping around in the wading pool. The stakes are low since there are no specific toys involved and they have always gotten along pretty well. Our new baby friend is Rilke, whom we met at the Tiny Tots Story Hour at the library.

Winslow’s mom actually is the one who “introduced” me to the library story hour or else I never in a million years (well, several at the very least) would have gone there myself. (I know, I know, a library, other mothers, their toddlers! Very scary stuff.) As it turned out, she convinced me to go then stood me up and I was forced to brave the story hour by myself. (Spoiler: I survived, and even returned the next week.)

I still am not sure what to think of it. It’s a room full of toddlers and their parents, there is group singing and participation, there is the highly anticipated story, there are bubbles and a massive bin of brightly colored plastic toys dumped out at the end. Everyone seems to know each other, like they started out in birthing class together and graduated to Tiny Tots. It feels like some sort of group therapy, which makes me nervous, but then everyone is pretty normal and it’s not much of a stretch to realize I’m the freak and that I need to just RELAX. Makes me wonder who is really in need of socializing.

Ronin is still in the observational stage. She burrows into my lap and is probably taking detailed mental notes as the more outgoing kids run amok around the room, crawling over other parents and knocking each other down. All the hands up, hands down, hands all around type stuff pretty much mystifies her. She managed to reach out a finger to pop a bubble and by the second time we went, she ventured forth into the mayhem that was the pile of toys (those tots do know how to party) and only got in minor, swiftly averted scuffles over more desirable articles.

I managed to make a friend too. No thanks to me of course; she was the friendly one and my only contribution was managing not to screw up my own email address.

Stopping to Smell the Flowers

Friday, July 24th, 2009

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This was taken about a month ago, she’s taller now.


Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Last Wednesday I picked Ronin up out of the crib after her nap and she felt crazy hot. I stripped her down and brought her to my bedroom for a diaper change and instead of putting up a fight as per usual, she just laid there, eyes half mast, rubbing her hair with her hands. I got out our fancy newfangled digital thermometer and jimmied her mouth open with it. She was not super thrilled but I was able to get the tip of it in her cheek for a few seconds. Luckily a few seconds is all the thermometer needs and it beeped at me: 104.5. Holy shit I thought, that can’t be right. I tried to take it again but she was similarly uncooperative; I got 104.5 again though. I took my own temperature: 98.0. I took hers again: 104.5. Kid’s got a hell of a fever.

After dosing her with acetaminophen, I wet her head with the shower sprayer. She cried piteously and I felt really bad by the time I got her in front of the fan. She just let me hold her and laid her head on my shoulder. This may not seem drastic but I’m telling you, Ronin is not a child who likes to be cuddled. By the time she lets you hold her close, she is in a State. Putting her head down though, that’s serious business and I was pretty worried.

I emailed Joshua a few dozen times, rechecked her temperature (104.1), and called the doctor. By the time they got back to me, half of an hour had passed and her fever had dropped to 103.4. The pediatrician did a good job of reassuring and calming me and after a couple of hours, Ronin’s fever had dropped to 99 something and she was running around almost like nothing was wrong at all. Babies are so weird.

We had a couple of days of up/down fevers but never a spike as high as that first day and though I thought it had to be Roseola (oh, Internet! You SLAY me.), she never developed the telltale rash. Mystery abounds.

Now we are back to The Usual. The usual being extraordinarily crabby especially in the mornings when she insists upon waking at 5am well before it is reasonable for anyone to be up I mean for god’s sake the sun hasn’t even come up yet but up she is and refusing to fall back asleep until like naptime. And during these few hours, she will SCREAM and generally be riding a knife’s edge between two chasms of doom and gloom. It sucks pretty badly. Eight more teeth to grow and maybe we’ll find out if it was really just the teething after all and not her natural disposition. La.


Saturday, July 4th, 2009

[Ro and me playing at the park while Joshua juggled.]

Many things have been going on around here lately that I can list as excuses for not updating the site in a million years. One is apathy (brought on by sleep deprivation, hopefully), another is the molars (GAH!), and still another is that our house got burglarized and our laptops stolen (lame!)

[A couple more photos from the camera card that didn’t get stolen. We were at the park for another Pedalpalooza thing. Note the orange band Ronin is wearing on her wrist: it’s to make sure Ronin doesn’t buy beer. Because she is underage.]

So yeah, Ronin is getting molars. She has been a total mess for the past six weeks with only minimal progress: first top molars just poking through, one bottom fully in, and the other has just surfaced in all its gory splendor. Then when she’s done growing all these, there are eight more.

Possibly it is just a developmental stage but I feel it is related to the teething; Ronin’s latest thing is a sudden and singular obsession to one random item, like for example, a Kid-Z bar wrapper. Take the other day when we were at the park playing; I’d slip bites into Ronin’s mouth as she ran by me en route from slide to stair (she generally refuses to eat while standing still, or god forbid, SITTING in her high chair) until finally the bar was done and I put the wrapper in my pocket. Then later when we passed a trash can, Ronin saw me unearth this holy treasure and (gasp) discard it. And she completely lost her shit. At first it didn’t occur to me what she wanted and I carried her away twisting and screaming and reaching desperately for the discarded wrapper. Unphased by Look! a bird! a ball! swings! trees! squirrels! firetrucks! babies! or any of the other park’s many distractions, Ronin continued to pitch a fit of epic proportion until I finally walked back and fished the wrapper out of the garbage can. Now all the staring parents were thinking, not only am I a mean mother for upsetting my precious child, I am an unhygienic one too who gives her poor kid pieces of trash to play with. Ronin, however, was immediately pacified and happily waved the wrapper in our wake as I took her home.

Yesterday’s drama was Weetabix. We walked to the store for our sample fix, from which a significant portion of Ronin’s daily caloric intake comes, and upon arrival, I fixed her a little paper cup of mini Weetabix to munch on as I wandered in a daze about the store. She spent the time taking the pieces out of the cup and putting them back in the cup, chewing on the edges of the cup, sucking on the Weetabix making a little shuuck shuuck sound, but not actually eating any of it. No biggie—she was happy and she lives on air anyway. We strolled home and as I tried to disentangle her from the straps of the stroller, (cue ominous music) I took the cup of Weetabix out of her hand. Bad move on my part. Her previously happy mood was shattered right then into a million bits and she started EH-EH-EHing hysterically. I got her out of the stroller and quickly shoved the cup back into her hand. She quieted but was a bit stressed out from those moments she had just spent wondering if she would never see her beloved Weetabix ever again.

Whatever kid. We got in the house and she continued to just play with the Weetabix, sucking on them and rattling them around in the cup. She spent a considerable amount of time taking the Weetabix pieces out and putting them various places in the house, on the chair, on the couch, in her shoes, and in her dump truck. Then she pooped.

Because I am a mean mother and Ender of All Things Fun, I scooped her up and took her into the bedroom to change. Yes, the Weetabix came along (I’m not that mean) though I was starting to plot the demise of the soggy things. Have you ever seen Weetabix? It looks like little fibrous bricks, sort of styrofoamy and rather unappetizing. Anyway, it was a big tragedy for Ronin to be so callously torn from Weetabix In The Front Room and she hollered loudly, struggling and twisting to get me to, presumably, drop her onto the hard floor. I removed the Weetabix cup from her hands while she screamed hysterically and set it on the bed next to her so I could lie her down. She carried on so tragically that I handed the cup back to her to hold while I changed her and she reigned in her mood. She laid there sniffling and clutching the cup on her chest but then she tipped it up to peek in at the Weetabix, which promptly fell down onto her face and around her neck. TRAGEDY! Oh the sobbing! I picked up the three sodden bricks and put them back in her cup, righting it in her hands on top of her chest. She slowly peeked inside to see the Weetabix and again it tumbled back out onto her face and around her neck. Again the sobbing and the restoration of the Weetabix cup; again another look in the cup and the disastrous outcome. Eventually I carried the sobbing mess back out into the living room.

She was so torn apart by the changing incident that I had to hold her on my lap with Nigel (and the cup of Weetabix) for a few minutes while she sucked on a pacifier and rested her head on my chest. Once recovered, she returned to games with the (now dirty and raggedy) cup of (now utterly disgusting, sodden and covered in rug fuzz) Weetabix. Eventually she lost interest and I was able to sneak it away and chuck it, but it took a while.

I always give her samples at the store and she usually eats them, or doesn’t eat them and chucks the paper cup on the floor for me to pick up (sometimes over and over again—a fun game!). I suppose I must be more selective when choosing things for Ronin to play with lest she develop an unnatural preoccupation with it. What it was about the Weetabix that triggered her obsession I’ll never know but one sample was enough to convince me to never buy the stuff ever as long as I live.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell